I don’t think this has been mentioned here yet but the HiFi News mag out in the shops in the UK today has a review of the ND555. It gets an “Outstanding product” verdict from our fellow member @andreweverard. Well worth a read, especially as it’s already available for free on the Naim website…
I’d observe that most products in the magazine end up as ‘outstanding’, ‘editors choice’, ‘highly commended’ etc. hence ‘outstanding’ isn’t as rare a badge as you might assume (I count five in this month’s edition alone). Infact I did write into the magazine to observe that and they commendably published an answer which hinted at some pre-selection in any case (i.e. very poor quality hi-fi doesn’t make it into the magazine often). I agree that 89% is ‘good’ but then we are talking about a £20k investment and I’ve seen other products scoring 90% or more (SME Synergy and Wilson Sasha in the March edition). So I think the outcome is what you’d expect at the price but not necessarily ‘much better than anything else’…
I personally think that reviews like this just give some insights into the unit, and the manufacturer’s intent, that might be missing otherwise. But as always it’s what you think when you hear it yourself. Anyone who buys a £13,000 unit solely on the basis of a review in any magazine is taking a big risk. But buying it solely on the basis of reputation is much more understandable.
Nevertheless I still think a mark of 89 and an outstanding product rating in HiFi News is worth further investigation if one is thinking of spending £13000 on a network player. After all, HiFi News only gave Naim’s Statement amplifier a score of 90%! And don’t forget, HiFi News say that their scores are not just about performance but also value for money.
I don’t know if this has been mentioned in other threads, but was interested by the comment that the ND555 sounds better with all inputs enabled. Tried this today with my NDX2 and have to say that I think there is something in it. Now sounds very right. A little puzzled as to why this is.
Does this include the Uniti units to. I did recently disable a lot of my inputs that where not being used. Recently I also noticed a change in the Atoms performance and could not understand why. Maybe this is it?
I see this in other similar mags as well. Nearly every product seems to have some accolade laid upon it. I’ll be honest I sometimes wonder if there’s a hint of keeping the advertisers happy going on. I’m not saying the ND555 (plus massively expensive PSU) isn’t a brilliant piece of kit, I’m sure it’s jaw-dropping, but perhaps the mags should raise their standards a little so we, the reader, can accurately gauge and compare products reviewed. Seeing everything as ‘fantastic’ does make comparisons harder to judge. You also see products that are reviewed and judged ‘outstanding’ or what ever and never heard of ever again… never mentioned in any future reviews or comparisons. Is that, perhaps, linked to the frequency that a manufacturer advertises in the publication? Maybe I’m just a natural cynic but I have seen this from the manufacturers side (though not in the hifi world I admit) and often a mag will contact the manufacturer and offer some brilliant review if they also place a multi-thousand pound full page advert - btdt! Maybe the hifi mags are different but…
This is exactly why I take most reviews with a grain of salt. I have found that following the advice of a really good dealer has worked better for me. Of course, the advice of a bad dealer is the worst.
I can say the same about car dealers. My first car dealer was my only one for nearly 35 years, but then went out of biz as a result of over expansion as the result of one of the brands he carried. Been with the latest one only 4 years. He is great also. I find that the lowest price and the most satisfaction are mutually exclusive. You get what you pay for mostly–but there are exceptions where you pay top dollar and don’t get the expected service.
In the current issue they review ten items and everyone is given a positive thumbs up with some form of ‘best of’ or similar accolade. It would help if at least there was some rational to the various accolades. So is ‘outstanding’ better than ‘editor’s choice’? Presumably the editor would only choose an item that was ‘outstanding’? Why would he choose an ‘average’ product. Personally I prefer the group tests where there are proper comparisons done between similar products under the same test procedures. A random review saying xyz product is ‘outstanding’ is pointless unless you say what is it compared to.